Tuesday, October 10, 2017

About Communication

Roses in my hood. Because roses.
This is the the third time I've posted this missive. This one is a truncated version; sometimes, I do go on, but it's not boring. I promise!

ADDED: Misspelled the title at first. I rely on that little red underline too much.

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Think about the last time you tried to have a conversation about important things--especially one in which the other participant didn't agree with you. Several impediments to the transmission of and response to the verbally-expressed ideas likely occurred, coming from both parties.

1. One or both persons talked over each other.
2. One or both persons misinterpreted/misrepresented what the other was trying to say more often than not, due to--again--preconceptions about the other person, the ideas being presented or both.
3. When disagreement is present, one person accuses the other of arguing, as if all arguing is bad and as if argument isn't a natural part of a situation in which two people disagree on a topic.

Dennis Prager talks about this topic often: how to have a productive conversation in which two participants are able to viably communicate. His rule is that a good communicator should speak no more than four sentences, and then allow the other person to respond to the ideas expressed in those sentences. The reasoning behind this rule is that the ideas contained in four sentences are the maximum amount of information that an average person could remember to address without taking notes. I would add a codicil to this rule: if the one knows that an idea requires a long exposition--inherently, much more than four sentences--one should warn the listener of this fact beforehand, simply to find out whether the other party is willing to sit still for the speech/story.

However, in most verbal exchange of ideas, the extremes tend to occur. Either one party talks (filibusters) so long that the other party cannot address every issue because the latter is simply not able to file each issue into short-term memory. Or one party cuts the other off in mid-idea before all elements of that idea can be fully expressed and the former addresses what he/she thinks the latter means without have the full picture. Both conditions are frustrating, often infuriating and result in raised voices, harsh words, hurt feelings and often misconceptions about either or both persons involved in such a so-called conversation.

A third communication extreme is when a person is intent on taking everything the other says as an insult, responding in the perceived same manner and the second person has to spend the rest of the "conversation" saying "no, I didn't mean that, what I meant was--" and getting cut off again.

I don't like to talk to people. I'm not a good conversationalist in that when I sense that the person doesn't really want to listen, I get nervous and begin to stutter and/or trip over my words. And most of those who want filibuster instead of listening will take advantage of that. Additionally, I tend to get angry when the other person doesn't listen--especially when he/she claims to know what I mean apart from things that I've actually said or observation of my actions. When that happens, my voice tends to gain a few--or many--decibels.

Why does this subject mean so much to me?

Because being a good-faith participant in the art of communication is an act of love--all forms. However, the philia form of love figures into the other two greatly: "getting on well with someone" or at least doing all one can to do so. It's also known as respect. Good-faith communication: that means that one assumes that the other participant is conveying a given idea out of goodwill.

I've been in situations in which I was trying to warn a person/persons of possible physical or situational hazards and was verbally torn to pieces--basically amounting to "don't tell me what to do!"--because of misinterpretations of the warning, twisting of my words and/or preconceived notions about how I thought. As a result, some of these persons are no longer my friends. Others (relatives), I keep in a certain zone--the no-real-communication zone.

The more I had been listening to and reading (vehemently illogical and mendacious) opposing responses to stated political and social views, the more I began to wonder why any of us keep plugging--especially those of us on the right. Communication impediments listed above--especially preconceived notions--abound. So why bother?

Then I remembered why I bothered in the first place; convincing others of my points of view was nice, but it wasn't the reason I started blogging. I started doing this for two reasons: to give factual and intellectual flesh to the things I had been thinking about and to do it without being interrupted; to put forth love: *good-faith* communication and to (mostly) get it back---whether the fellow communicator agrees or disagrees with my opinion on a given subject. Anything else is gravy.



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